Paul Morose, writing on his At The Races blog, explains why he hasn't been to the Big A, which, he opines, has the atmosphere of a third-world bus terminal (a description I find to be mildly xenophobic), since Thanksgiving weekend.
I find very little at Aqueduct that prompts speculation in the pari-mutuel pools and expect nothing to change after post-scratch re-evaluation of this position. While admittedly more conservative than most horseplayers, a typical week of racing this winter has failed to yield more than a handful of plays and it is not unusual for a card, like [Thursday] – which does not include a single open allowance race but two for maiden claimers and a special weight for state-breds -- to be completely empty.Well, I certainly can't say he's entirely wrong (at least as far as the quality of racing goes; as you know, I adore the Big A). It's a tough go here at times. There have indeed been some days on which a perusal of the pp's hasn't produced a single race that inspires me to delve further (though Thursday was not one of them). And personally, I just can't abide by these bottom level state-bred maiden, and now, open claimers which NYRA has depended on to fill up the fields and cards. This is actually the first year in a while that I've paid close attention rather than divert nearly all of my handicapping efforts to warmer climes....and there have been times when I have wavered.
However, as is generally the case with this writer, I think he's overdoing it with the gloom and doom. More often than not, I find that there's at least a couple of races on the card that I find interesting enough, particularly the claiming races which require one to read into the trainer's minds to determine intent in addition to analyzing the numbers in the Form. The various conditions attached to claiming races, and the starters allowances and handicaps have helped to keep things reasonably lively, as has the infusion of live horses from the Lake, Ramsey, and Asmussen stables.
Having said that, Gulfstream this is certainly not. But I'm glad I've stuck with it, and I think it will prove to be beneficial for me down the road. For one thing, the seasons change, the heat and humidity turns to the chill of autumn and eventually to ice and snow, the green leaves come and go. So why not experience the ebb and flow of the racing season as well? Sure, one can follow the horses down to Florida, up through Lexington to Belmont and Saratoga and then back south again, and maintain a high level of intensity 12 months a year. But personally, I need a break every now and then. And I believe that enduring the winter racing season will no doubt help me better appreciate the sport as it starts to improve come spring, instead of taking it for granted and grumbling when the racing may not live up to its billing. Because, like it or not, racing that we might consider to be "cheap" is now a 12 month stable around here; just wait until the third week of Saratoga. I'm thinking and hoping that following the NYRA circuit through the hard times will, in addition to giving me a feeling of accomplishment just for sticking with it, help me to be more knowledgeable of the tendencies of the local year-round barns, thus enabling me to take advantage when others are moaning and groaning over all the claiming events you're sure to see in August, and throughout the spring and fall.
- In the 7th at Aqueduct today, Night in Tunisia (7-2) takes a steep drop in class for Pletcher, running for a tag for the first time....and a cheap one (10K) at that. The Toddster is quietly having a decent meeting here, 9 for 37 (24%), and four winners from his last nine starters. This horse has a similar pattern to that of Sunday Elegance, who the barn similarly dropped drastically in class and turned back from a route to a sprint when she romped in a conditional 15K event on Dec 27 (and then moved up to win for 30K earlier this month). Like that one, Night in Tunisia has shown some good early foot; and in fact graduated at this distance at Belmont with a 64 Beyer that certainly makes him competitive here. Gotta love the fact that Dominguez climbs aboard too. All the Way Home is the value play here at his 12-1 morning line. Dropped to this level and cut back to six furlongs in his last, David Duggan's gelding had a deeply troubled trip; squeezed back after the start, buried on the rail, and steadied several times throughout. When finally clear, he finished well for third. Clear path from the 12 post here with Rosie back in the saddle. Honour Above Self (6-1) is clearly the class of this field, but the long absence and return for a cheap price makes him suspicious indeed.
The Rare Treat is down to six, and thanks for the well-wishes for Rap Tale. Good luck to all and have a great day.